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Another letter, after giving an account of the operation, states ;—At daylight we found the place had been evacuated during the night; the troops were immediately landed by the small ships. The Turkish tlag was hoisted on the citadel, and on either side a small English and Austrian flag, thus terminating the siege and fall of Acre. The enemy certainly had been expecting us to land in the hay, having barricaded the g-'tes on that side and made it very strong; we commenced by going round the outer walls, and were truly surprised at the strength of the place; almost every gun was new,—every carriage quite so; but the quantity of ammunition, shots, and shells, of every sort and description, by the side of each gun astonished us, certainly sufficient for a six months" ordinary siege. But nothing could stand against the fire that was opened on them, the ships taking at least two-thirds of the triangle, which is the shape of the fortification. Almost every gun has been rendered useless, many upset, and most of them having a shot or two through their carriages; killed and wounded about in all directions—a sad sight. From this we went up into the citadel, a very strong and almost impregnable place; from this through a mosque, the stores and magazines, and then on to the crater, for I cannot use a more appropriate word; the quantity of powder was immense, the precise number of tons uncertain; but the space destroyed covers one mile, the number of killed by the explosion above 1,200, besides cattle, horses, &c.; in many places on the cinders I passed six and eight bodies, lying over and beside each other in one place. We counted thirty donkeys dead, having been tethered in a square ready to carry shot, &c., to the distant guns, cattle and horses half buried. Indeed, no one in the fleet ever witnessed such an extensive explosion. From this we went out some way on the beach to meet 700 infantry, who had just marched back and given up their arms, then on to the cavalry stables; 600 horses were taken; the other 600 expected in hourly. In the town there is not one house without many shot holes in it, nor one habitable. I could not have imagined a city so completely destroyed, and was really glad to find myself again on board.
The Bellerophon, Revenge, and Thunderer, are ordered to convey 600 prisoners each to Beyrout, and there tranship them into transports for Constantinople. It is said that much specie has been found in the city, and 300 pieces of field artillery. I yesterday heard the value estimated at 200,000/., this fortress having been the grand depot and arsenal of Mehemet AH. It will be a great blow to him; the garrison was supposed to amount to near 6,000 at the commencement of the attack. The next ships for Malta are the Edinburgh, Hazard, and Wasp, the two first having their mizen-masts, and the last her foremast shot through. The Bellerophon in the three hours and a half fired away 160 barrels of powder, and 28 tons of iron shot.
The following is from an officer of the squadron.
H.M.S. Bellerophon, Nov. 5lh, Acre. I have only just time to say that I am not killed—I refer you to English papers for a more circumstantial account of the capture of this important fortress, than any my pen could pourtray, for your information.
Out loss is astonishingly small, (I mean in th« fleet,) for we did not lose a man 1 Such an acquisition, and gained too in such a gratifying way ;—almost a bloodless victory on our side!
The Admiral has issued an order to the fleet, which I give you, verbatim.
"Princess Charlotte, off Acre, 6th Nov. 1840. "Memo.—The Commander-in-Chief congratulates the Commodore, Captains, and Commanders, of Her Majesty's ships and vessels, and all the Officers, Seamen, and Royal Marines, upon the important capture of the forts and town of Acre; a fortress which has stood many long and serious attacks, but which was destroyed in three hours, by the rapidity and precision of the fire of the British ships acting in conjunction with their allies.
"The Commander-in-Chief returns his best thanks to the Commodore, Officers, and Men above-mentioned.
"Signed Robert Stopford, Admiral, "To the respective Captains, Commanders, "Commander-in-Chief.''
and Officers commanding H.M. ships and
Thanks to sundry sand hags, that had been placed under the breast of many guns, and thereby prevented the required depression to cut us up. They never calculated, poor fellows, upon our approaching them so close: two hundred yards further out, and we should have been prettily riddled: shot from the very commencement to the close of the action passed between our masts, and pitched about that distance outside of us.
I have just returned from the shore after witnessing a most frightful scene of havoc and devastation! Such an example as we have afforded them! Awful in every sense of the word! one mass of ruins. Acre so celebrated in 1799, has been irretrievably destroyed (as far as the town and many batteries are concerned,) by the British fleet in 1840.
Such a succession of good fortune! such wonderful and unlooked for achievements by a naval force in a few weeks. Before I go further I must mention that about the middle of the action which lasted for three hours and upwards, from 2h. 30m. P.m. (nov. 3rd,) to 5h. 50m. P.m. when all was hushed! a grand magazine blew up, and destroyed more than 2,000 souls.
At sunset firing ceased and we expected to have been compelled to commence cannonading on the morrow, but during the night the enemy evacuated the place, and we took possession. The ensuing day's dawn saw the Turkish standard, and English and Austrian flags waving proudly on the highest battlements of the citadel.
Two thousand Turks have arrived here on their march down from Sidon to cut off the enemy's escape, but their services were not required to effect that object as the mountain passes, in the hands of the mountaineers, were not pursuable; and the enemy making a virtue of necessity, returned to throw up their arms to the heroes of Acre. Some 5,000 or 6,000, I hear, have already come, and more than 1,500 cavalry.
Bellerophon, Thunderer, and Revenge are to take 600 each to Beyrout to be sent to Constantinople by transport. We shall leave this to-morrow.
Nothing can withstand the awful precision of the fire of the Mediterranean Fleet, which will, depend upon it, be triumphant, singly or collectively, wherever they meet a foe foolhardy enough to hazard an engagement.
Charles Elliott took up a good town berth in Hazard, and has suffered I believe, more than many other vessels.
Acre may well be called the arsenal of Syria, and superior in strength to any place in the world, save Gibraltar. It is abundantly supplied with munitions of war of every kind. Immense stores of grain,—shot and shells, powder, arms, and lots of treasure, 400 field pieces, HO heavy artillery mounted round the town,—counted by our surgeon,— and 16 howitzers, most 13-inch.
I partake too much of the excitement that prevails afloat to write in a reasonable way just now, so " take the will for the deed."
Wi subjoin the following letter also from an officer of the squadron :—
"Off St. Jean d'Acre, Nov. 4M, 1840. "I have now to announce to you one of the most complete and glorious actions which have happened for many a long day. Acre is now our own, after an action of three hours and a quarter. But let me proceed to give you the details :—On the 1st Nov. the following ships weighed from Beyrout to proceed to this place—Princess Charlotte, Powerful, Thunderer, Revenge, Bellerophon, Benbow, Edinburgh, Castor, Carysfort, and the steamers Gorgon, Vesuvius, Stromboli, and Phcenix, which vessels pushed on at once to their destination, every- vessel having on board from 200 to 300 Turks, besides the shore marines, artillerymen, &c.; the land forces commanded by Sir C. Smith, Selim Pacha, and General Jochmus. On the 2d we were off Tyre, where we picked up the Wasp, and in the evening of that day anchored out of gun shot of the batteries of Acre; here we found the steamers, and Pique, Talbot, Hazard, Turkish liner, with Admiral Walker's flag, and two Austrian frigates. During the night we got cables out for anchoring by the stern.
"At 10 A.m. on the 3rd, all the ships weighed, and prepared for action; the steamers opened their shell guns upon the town, at a great distance, and I am w>rry to say, the shells failed, nearly all through bursting at the muzzle, or before the proper time given by the length of fusee. The wind was light, and blowing directly offshore; at 12 we went to dinner; the wind shifted, the sea breeze setting in, and all the ships hove to. At 1 P.m., the order of sailing was formed—weather or northern line being the Powerful, Princess Charlotte, (admiral in the Phoenix,) Revenge, Thunderer, Bellerophon, and Pique j the southern line was Benbow, Edinburgh, Castor, Carysfort, and Talbot; the Turkish admiral standing in by himseli. At lh. 15m., or lh.30m., the batteries hoisted their colours and opened a heavy fire upon the Benbow, but too high; the Benbow returned it with three bow guns, thus becoming the first ship engaged: at lh. 50., anchored, sprung the ship and commenced in earnest; by 2 P.m. all the ships were engaged excepting the Bellerophon and Thunderer, which two ships, from the Powerful not taking up her berth far enough ahead, could not get in, and therefore fired very rarely. The cannonade was kept up with great spirit on both sides. The ships were anchored about 700 yards off the shore.
"At 3h. 30m. the Benbow commenced firing a few shells, when immediately after the most terrific explosion of the grand magazine in the fortress took place. I never saw such an awful scene; the whole sea between us and the batteries was one sheet of foam, as if thousands of cannon balls were leaping towards us; numbers went over, but not one struck us; the concussion was Bo great lhat the people came out of our magazine, thinking it was our own ship. This I think decided the day, for the firing gradually ceased from the forts; and at 5 P.m. the signal was thrown out to discontinue action, every gun being silenced excepting one which persevered in firing the last shot. All the damaged ships now hauled out into safer anchorage.
"During the night Admiral Walker sent a boat on shore, and ascertained the place had surrendered, and he sent 300 men on shore at once to put a stop to the pillage which was going on. At daylight all the marines and Turks were landed,—hoisted the Turkish, English, and Austrian flags, which were greeted with repeated salutes and cheers. I soon went on shore! but the scene was too horrible for an inexperienced eye. At the batteries, dead and wounded lay in heaps, mangled most dreadfully; gunpowder, shells primed, &c, strewed about in heaps: really our gunnery practice reflects admirable credit on us; almost every gun was dismounted or disabled, and the whole place is one heap of ruins. But the most revolting sight was the place of the explosion; it appears that a whole regiment of 1,500 men are buried under its ruins; here a hand, there a leg, was to be seen, sticking up from the mass of rubbish ; bodies were being dragged out constantly, some still breathing, muskets, bayonets, shreds of burnt clothes, and limbs scattered about in every direction. The surviving gunners say that the men were picked off from their guns by our shot, as if it was from musketry. Nearly a quarter of the place was blown up, making a deep hollow where formerly stood the government buildings; amongst which was the khan in which the devoted regiment was placed, to be sheltered from our fire.
"The batteries they had against us were very enormous; at least thirty mortars from thirteen to eight-inch, several eight-inch guns and forty-pounders; if they had been well directed the execution on board our ships would have been dreadful; but they fired too high, and loaded their guns, with perhaps three shot at a time, so that many did not penetrate one side of the ships. The damage about the rigging and masts was great, Edinburgh's mizen-mast was disabled; a shell burst on her quarter-deck, killing four marines, and slightly wounding Captain Hastings, the master, and two midshipmen. The Benbow had fourteen shots in her null, but not a soul hurt, although perhaps in the thickest of the fire; the Edinburgh was just ahead, and Wasp astern of her; the Wasp had four men dangerously wounded. The Castor is very much cut up about her rigging; no one hurt. The Powerful is much cut up about her rigging; this ship and the Revenge lost a main-topmast. The slings of the main-yard of the Benbow were shot through; but the yard was fortunately well secured previously. The Turks lost many. The killed and wounded on shore are quite beyond calculation; prisoners about 2,000, not more than 200 escaped; amongst them was the governor, but he was stopped by the mountaineers, and is now in our possession; and in all probability those few soldiers who did leave the town are massacred by the same people; several are lying dead in the road, about a mile from the town. Napier wanted to march at once to Damascus to cut off Ibrahim Pacha's retreat, but we had not sufficient troops. The Egyptians have every where given frightful examples of their cruel and atrocious nature. Before they deserted Tripoli, they collected all their powder, women, and Bick, whom they could not carry away, and blew them all up together. They are a detestable, cold blooded set of butchers."
The following is an extract of a letter from an officer of her Majesty's steam-frigate Gorgon:—
"On the last day of October we were despatched from Beyrout, with three steamers under our command, to bombard this devoted place for three days before the general attack was made, which we commenced on the 1st of November, by standing in within range, and firing shells as hard as we could pelt, and
they returned two for one. They fell around us like hail, but strange to nay, not a shot struck us; our bombardment was not very successful, as more than half the shells burst before they reached the shore, owing to the fuses being badly bored; all the shells from the steamers failed alike, a circumstance not very creditable to those who made them, and sadly disappointing to us. It is not likely they were ever tried at such a distance before, 4,000 yards.
"At half-past 4 o'clock ,—(how shall I describe this,) as if by one consent, all firing ceased, and oh! heavens! what a sight! Trie whole town appeared as if it was in the air; so awfully grand a sight no one can describe. We saw nothing but one devilish cloud, extending thousands of yards into the air on all sides, and then we felt an awful shock which gave the line-of-battle ships a heel of two degrees, so that you may judge from the moment of the explosion, all firing from the town ceased. The Turkish Admiral, Walker Bey, was boarded at one o'clock in the morning by an Egyptian Colonel, who informed him that they were evacuating the town as fast as possible. Walker Bey immediately landed with 300 men, and took possession of the town, making 3,000 prisoners.
"Thus fell this tremendous fortress, which h&s not been over-rated by report, for I really think it is the strongest place, (next to Gibraltar) in the world, and I think we should never have taken it but for the explosion, which was caused by one of our shells bursting in their main magazine of powder, by which, to speak within bounds, 2,000 souls were blown to atoms, besides beasts of burthen of every description. In all, the loss of the Egyptians is computed at 3,1)00 killed and wounded. At daylight, what a sight was exposed to our view .' The stupendous fortification, that only twelve hours before could boast of being among the strongest in the world, wag so riddled, we could not find a square foot that had not a shot.
"On the morning of the 4th, I went ashore to witness the devastation; the sight beggared all description. The bastions were strewed with dead, the guns dismounted, and all sorts of havoc. I then came to the spot where the explosion took place; it has hud a space of two acres quite bare, and hollowed it out as if a quarry had been worked there for years. And, oh 1 heavens, what a tight? It makes my blood run cold to write of it. Mangled human bodies of both sexes, strewed in all directions, women searching for their husbands and relatives, tearing their hair, beating their breasts, and howling and crying most piteously. God forbid that I should ever see the like again."
Disaster At St. Jean D'acre.
On the 6th of November, three days after the fall of this'redoubtable fortress, and when the British were still rejoicing at having achieved in three hours, and with a loss on their side of only 22 killed and 44 wounded, that which even in its then inferior strength withstood eleven assaults of Napoleon, and was only taken on the twelfth with a sad loss of human life, they were doomed to suffer a disaster, the origin of which is likely never to be cleared up, though in all probability, it has arisen from the loose manner in which powder appears to have been conveyed fTom place to place by the enemy, during the defence of it against the allies, for it seems the approaches to the works from the several magazines are literally one continued train of powder, requiring the greatest vigilance to remove, so as to avoid such consequences as the one we are about to relate.
A column, at least 500 yards in height, of thick yellow smoke and dust, with a loud and simultaneous report, succeeded by a white smoke and the bursting of so many as as thousand shells, spreading in all